If you are one of the 40 million adults in the United States who have varicose veins, you know how painful and uncomfortable they can be.
Varicose vein pain affects 70% of women (and 40% of men) by the age of 60, although it’s worse for people who have spent a lifetime on their feet for work, are obese, or have a family history of the condition. With varicose veins, painful symptoms are also more likely to be seen after a pregnancy, although frequently these symptoms will improve the year after delivery.
These enlarged veins usually occur in the legs and may be painless, albeit unsightly. They’re sometimes blue or purple and often have a twisty appearance under the skin. They can make your legs feel heavy, cause them to ache, or trigger muscle cramps, swelling, and itchiness.
Or, you may experience other strange symptoms, such as leg restlessness or a sensation of water dripping due to nerve triggering. You’ll want to talk with a physician for a clear diagnosis.
Varicose veins that cause pain can be frustrating and exhausting. Just when you’re ready to sit down and put your feet up, you’re in pain. Thankfully, there are treatments available, as well as everyday actions you can take to lessen the pain and keep it from getting worse.
Treatment Options for Varicose Vein Pain
Microfoam injections, a specific form of sclerotherapy, are a common treatment for varicose veins. A medical professional will inject a solution called sclerosant directly into your enlarged vein, which in turn will shrink as the injection causes the supply of blood to be cut. Recovery tends to be quick, although some patients will need to return for additional treatments.
Laser or Radiofrequency Ablation
Another non-invasive treatment for varicose veins involves a doctor or vein specialist using a laser to close the vein. This procedure is known as endovenous laser ablation or EVLA. A fiber is inserted into the vein and a laser is used to encourage your vein to be reabsorbed back into your leg. The process takes about 30 minutes, and most patients experience only minor pain for a few days.
Another type of vein ablation uses radiofrequency energy, rather than a laser, to achieve the same result. Doctors insert a catheter with electrodes that heat the vein walls and destroy the tissue.
These processes often involve local anesthesia or a mild sedative, and can be done in an office setting. Your doctor or vein specialist will likely instruct you to wear compression stockings for at least a week after the treatment, and an ultrasound may be necessary as a follow-up.
Ambulatory phlebectomy is an outpatient procedure in which a vein specialist removes the superficial vein completely via a minimally invasive surgery. The doctor makes a small incision on the leg for the process, so there may be bruising and swelling after the procedure. However, patients are usually able to walk immediately after surgery and experience only minimal pain.
Everyday Changes to Reduce Varicose Vein Pain
Before surgery, doctors will usually encourage people with painful varicose veins to try lifestyle changes that can stop the condition from worsening and help with the pain. But even if you’ve elected for a procedure to rid yourself of the pain of varicose veins, the condition may reappear if you don’t make changes to stop new varicose veins from developing.
Maintain an Active Lifestyle
If you work a sedentary job, or a job that keeps you on your feet, but stationary, all day — such as a teacher or cashier —you’ll want to make sure you’re getting plenty of movement and stretching daily. Walk around so that your leg muscles move. You want to literally “get your blood pumping.”
Wear Compression Socks
To stop blood from pooling in areas that aren’t getting a lot of movement, compression socks are another solution. Put them on in the morning before you lower your legs and get out of bed so your veins can continue to function more effectively while you’re sitting or standing in one place throughout the day.
Being overweight is a risk factor associated with developing varicose veins. In addition to helping reduce pain associated with varicose veins, shedding excess weight will also help address many other conditions and improve vein health overall.
Elevate Your Legs
That’s right, put your feet up! Along with moving your body during breaks throughout the day, you can improve your circulation by bringing your legs above your heart. Try the legs-up-the-wall yoga position a few times each day. As a bonus, this pose is also known to reduce stress.
Tips for Preventing Future Vein Pain
If you have varicose veins and are experiencing pain, there are many ways you can try to reduce the severity of your symptoms:
- – Stretch your legs regularly. Flex and point your feet and massage your calf muscles. Try to stretch 30 minutes everyday, perhaps at the end of the day as a bedtime routine.
- – Stay hydrated. Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day will help you maintain healthy blood circulation.
- – Play it cool. Very hot baths, hot tubs, and saunas can cause veins to dilate, so it’s best to avoid these environments.
- – Avoid high heels. While they aren’t proven to cause varicose veins, they don’t help. High heels can put too much pressure on certain body parts, stopping the flow of blood from where it naturally needs to go.
- – Keep moving. Even gentle walks and 10 minutes of stretching every day will go a long way toward helping to alleviate the pain.
Of course, if you continue to feel pain or discomfort from varicose veins, or if your pain is getting worse, you should seek help from a vein specialist.
Decide if Varicose Vein Treatment Is Right for You
You don’t have to live with the pain that comes from varicose veins. It’s possible to treat them by removing existing varicose veins and making lifestyle changes so that you’re less likely to develop them again in the future.
If you’re ready to get relief from the pain of varicose veins, My Vein Treatment offers a locator tool that can help connect you with a vein specialist near you to discuss your treatment options.